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Sandy reveals shipwreck remains at Surf City

By Bailey Hicks - 6 Wect


Shifts in the sand at Surf City from Hurricane Sandy led to a unique discovery.

Wreckage from the William H. Sumner, a three masted schooner that was built in 1891 was uncovered once again in the sand.

Every time there is a strong storm, people from the area say the wreckage becomes visible. And while, you can see portions of the ship's wood, some say the mystery related to what really happened when the ship crashed is still buried.

In 1919, the William H. Sumner was traveling from the West Indies to New York carrying lumber, phosphate rock and mahogany. However, something went wrong.

People that saw the ship pass by Wrightsville Beach noticed it was acting unusual.

"It was 1919, and people saw schooners pass all the time.

They know what one is supposed to look like, [this one] was too close to shore and the sails weren't right," said Nathan Henry, an assistant state archeologist who works at the Fort Fisher .

Sure enough, the ship crashed at the Topsail Inlet. After salvaging some parts, the Coast Guard blew it up because it was a navigational hazard. The around 10 ft piece of wood, which originally was the ship's inner shell, wound up on Surf City's beach.

While the wood is exposed, some say what happened back in 1919 is still a mystery. According to Henry, the Captain of the ship was shot after the ship wrecked.

Originally the First Mate was charged with murder, but he later appealed it and won. Ever since, the death has been ruled a suicide. However, the details remain fuzzy.